By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Eight area athletes won gold medals at Friday’s Class 3, 4 and 5 state track and field championships in Jefferson City.
Bowles rediscovers high jump prowess
Strafford’s Madi Bowles last cleared 5’4” or better in the third track meet of the season.
On Friday, she found her jumping mojo again. Bowles cleared 5’4” to win the Class 3 girls’ high jump by one inch.
“Lately, I’ve been clearing 5’2” or 5’0” in meets,” Bowles said. “This is the first time in a while that I’ve cleared 5’4” in a meet. I’m happy it happened. God was definitely on my side for that.”
Bowles essentially bet on herself by choosing to skip 5’1” level and go for 5’2”.
“I knew if I jumped that then I could possibly skip higher heights because I would get tired,” Bowles said. “Being a senior, I know myself.”
Bowles’ patience paid off.
“Everybody was so excited because they got top eight whenever they cleared 5’1”. But I couldn’t really be happy with them because I hadn’t cleared 5’2” yet. So, I was just keeping my composure and everything. I tried to focus on myself and not everyone else.”
Bowles transferred to Strafford from Kickapoo for her senior season.
And what a season it was.
She was also a key component of Strafford’s Class 2 state runner-up volleyball team. The 5’11” outside hitter will continue her volleyball career at Central Arkansas.
“Strafford’s been good to me, for sure,” Bowles said.
French makes full return from knee injury
Katie French didn’t make it to state last year, but she had a reasonable excuse.
She suffered a major knee injury.
“It was challenging and kind of a low blow,” French said.
Safe to say, she’s made it back.
French won the Class 4 shot put with a throw of 44’02”.
“I wouldn’t be able to do this without my coach (Roy Kaderly) and my whole track team supporting me and telling me, ‘(You) can do it, (you) can do it,’ and being a constant support behind me,” French said.
The multi-sport athlete tore her ACL last spring during offseason training with the Marshfield softball team.
Doubt crept in.
“I was a little overwhelmed with the injury and kind of skeptical,” French said. “My coach promised me, ‘Katie, you can do it. You can achieve anything as long as you work hard and go for it,’” French said. “That’s exactly what I did. I went in the weight room and listened to my physical therapist. It was awesome.”
Locals dominated the Class 4 girls’ shot put event. West Plains senior Kasey Bonham finished third (44’4.75”), Webb City sophomore Octavia Duncan took fourth (39’04”) and Willard sophomore Kaitlyn Burson placed fifth (38’08”).
“Having them with me was kind of nice,” French said. “They’re competition, but they’re also friends and family. It was a (familiar) aspect to come into this meet with.”
Carthage triple jumpers go 1-2
The Carthage boys placed third as a team in Class 4 last season, despite not having any first-place finishers.
Through five events this year, the Tigers sit in first place – thanks in large part to a strong performance in the triple jump. On top of that, they already have a gold medalist.
Senior Arkell Smith won the event with a mark of 47’01.5”.
“This is something I’ve been striving for since sophomore year,” Smith said. “To come out here and do it for our team… it’s great. Last year we didn’t have a state champion. That was a goal this year – to push for first place.”
Teammate and sophomore Taris Jackson finished second 45’10”.
“It’s competition within each other,” Smith said of the two. “We push each other every practice.”
Hillcrest senior Savion Hill made it a 417 sweep by placing third in the event.
Smith also earned all-state honors in football.
“It’s amazing being able to accomplish all-state in both sports,” Smith said. “I’ve been working hard for that.”
A big day could be in store for him Saturday. Smith competes in the long jump and two relay finals (4×200, 4×400).
Swadley throws 189’03” to win Class 4 discus
Nathan Swadley always thought of himself as a shot put guy. Results suggest another event.
That continued Friday as the Willard senior uncorked a throw of 189’03”. He bested a strong challenge from Grandview’s Christian Turner (180’05”) to win the Class 4 discus event.
“Throughout high school, I never thought discus would be the event,” said Swadley, who now has three all-state finishes in discus.
Swadley watched as Turner hit the 180’ mark on his final throw. It was close, but still about nine feet short of the 189’03” mark Swadley reached earlier.
“I knew he had the possibility to pop a big one, but when I saw it hit the ground, I knew I could relax,” Swadley said. “We’ve competed quite a bit. It’s nice to see him again, and I’ll see him some more (in shot put) Saturday.”
Swadley has a chance to leave his mark on the Willard record book. He has six state medals for his career.
Willard’s Jason Pyrah has seven total medals, including six gold medals, over a two-year career.
On Saturday, Swadley competes in the shot put (where he’s seeded second, behind Turner) and javelin (where he’s seeded ninth).
“It’d be nice to pass him, with a chance to get eight medals total,” said Swadley, a Missouri S&T signee.
Lamar’s Lucas wins Class 3 discus
Add another trophy, err, medal to Cooper Lucas’ resume.
The standout all-state football player, who keyed the Tigers’ seventh straight state football championship last fall, is also this year’s best discus thrower in Class 3.
Lucas threw 176’02” to win the event. Salem senior J.D. Bowling placed 5th (151’06”).
Lucas said he was gunning for the 200-foot mark on Friday. He’s hit 183 feet in practice, he said.
“I didn’t get it today, but I’m still happy,” Lucas said. “I still got first. It’s a good way to end my senior year.”
Cooper’s headed to Arkansas State for football.
“I’m moving on to bigger and better things, but it still sucks because I won’t get to compete with some of my friends anymore,” Lucas said. “I’ve been competing with them for a long time.”
As for the gold medal addition to his trophy case…
“My mom keeps all that stuff,” Lucas said. “I don’t do anything with it.”
Riddle misses record mark, still takes gold
He came up a few seconds short, but that’s OK.
Ryan Riddle’s still a two-time state champ in the 3200. Not a bad consolation prize.
The Webb City senior crossed the finish line in 9:09.03. West Plains senior Ben Stasney finished second (9:15.95).
“I was a little disappointed with the time, but with the humidity and the way the weather worked out today, it wasn’t my day today,” Riddle said. “But I’m still excited about my performance.”
Riddle admitted he was aiming for Missouri’s all-class record of 8:57.23, set by Lee’s Summit star Matt Tegenkamp in 2000.
“That’s been my biggest goal all season,” Riddle said.
Riddle ran 8:56 at the Kansas Relays in late April.
“I was hoping to come here and break that, but it just didn’t happened,” he said.
Riddle competes in the 1600 and 800 on Saturday. He has the top seed times for both events.
George grabs gold in javelin
Monett’s Kaesha George received her medal last. And she wouldn’t want it any other way.
The Monett sophomore threw 138’11” to win the Class 4 girls’ javelin event.
“It means everything,” George said.
In 2017, she placed third in the event.
“I knew coming into today that I didn’t want to get third,” George said. “I wanted to be on top (of the podium), I wanted to get my medal last.”
Friday’s result adds more accolades to George’s impressive portfolio.
She’s also an all-state softball player and an all-conference basketball player at Monett.
“I’ve had this fire to go farther,” George said. “I’ve just been practicing hard, working hard every day.”
Schriever takes 1st in Class 4 girls high jump
Grace Schriever looked at the seed marks and saw herself among the muddled middle. In fact, she was two inches off the top mark shared by five other jumpers.
“Looking at where I was placed, around sixth, I didn’t really expect to win at first,” Schriever said.
So much for that. Schriever cleared 5’3” to win the Class 4 girls’ high jump event.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said.